In many ways I am amazed that I was able to dish out as much as I did this weekend considerin' that the pickins have been rather creepy crawl as of late. Of course the new Kiosks platter is all the rage here at BTC central, and those Bill Shute burns were pleasant enough even if they weren't anything that I'd kill you over (and sometimes I think I'm looking for a reason just to do that!). Not to mention the youtube find of Nick Kent's Subterraneans who mighta been one of those late-seventies novas that led us into the doldrum eighties had this only gotten out to more'n a choice few, but I sincerely doubt it .I'm sure that even a jaded curmudgeon such as yourself will have to admit that I did do a good job presenting something along the lines of a topper'n usual top quality post this week, and if I may pat myself on the back let me be the first to do so!
Concerned people have been asking me how I've been taking the news regarding longtime funnyman Fred Willard, best known to me and perhaps even you as the addled announcer Jerry Hubbard from the late-seventies talk-show spoof FERNWOOD/AMERICA TONITE, who just happened to've had the misfortune of being arrested pants down in a porn palace a week or so back. Well, I must say that I am saddened to see this high-larious comedian having sunk so low (even though it's like he hasn't been outta the public light since that classic show went off the tube) as to engaging in sinful onanism in a public theatre, but rules are rules and if anything the guy is a sicko who should have the strong arm of the law pummel him until he bleeds for mercy. Yeah, I know that there are some out there who, as in the case of Pee Wee Paul Reubens Herman, think that such arrests are outrageous and that flibbin' the jib is something that comes naturally in X-rated moom pitcher houses and the cops should be out there arresting the real criminals who are out there jaywalking...well, that might be find and dandy oh civil libertarianous ones, but to this argument I must retort "have you ever whipped out your dirty part of the body at a public meeting place such as a theatre, or at a playground or swimming pool or even voting booth for that matter? If you have, all I gotta say is EWWWW, UGGH, ORRKK!!! (TRANSLATION: it figures!) As Bob Grant once said, it's getting sicker and sicker out there folks, and sometimes I get the feeling that its some of you readers who are help edging us all out over the cliff into total depravity to which I say hissssssss!
Of course the real question that nobody seems to be asking is...what was Willard viewing (that is,.what perverse and unnatural sexual act was being portrayed on the screen) that made him wanna do the naughty thing that got many a four-year-old threatened with scissors castration anyway? Now, finding that out is one thing that could change my opinion of him in a flash!
So without further ado (I know that I've probably reminded each and every one of you males about the time your mother chased you around the house with shears in hand!) here's what's been getting the royal treatment in my boudoir, and maybe this stuff should be in yours too!
THE KIOSK II CD-R (David Keay)
Wanted to avoid the usual Velvet Underground comparisons considering how just about every tinhorn up-from-bondage act that's pranced upon the amerindie scene claims total allegiance to 'em even if their music sucks turkey turds but sheesh, I can't. This Kiosk release reminds me of those great groups back in the seventies like Hackamore Brick and Lester Bangs' Birdland and Harry Toledo who had that hefty Velvets vibe yet were smart enough not to take on the superficial aspects of the quest by releasing gunk. In many ways this reminds me of the equally Vevetesque Shangs Cee-Dees from way back inna nineties and their own personalist nature, yet track #7 "Piano Boogie" comes off like classic Neu! so who knows exactly how to pigeonhole the Kiosk into terms that can easily be filtered through your obv. underdeveloped yet rock-saturated minds.
Really, this is a monster. A platter that I can find nary a fault with and which is guaranteed to get hefty pre-beddy bye spin time considering its copasetic nature with the Golden Age of Rock Scribbling reading that usually accompanies my late-night platter sessions. Anyway, if you want it bad enough you can write to Keay @ email@example.com, and who knows, maybe if you don't mention me he might slip a surprise or two into your package!
Records like THUNDER ON A CLEAR DAY remind me of alla them old catalogs I used to get from Metro Music and Beathaven which would offer set sales of long-forgotten albums such as this one from an Arizona group that managed to get this album out on Vault Records back '67 way. I naturally was curious as to these under-the-counter acts that weren't exactly getting written up in BOMP! (though BLITZ's Mike McDowell usually gave 'em a go), and with my lack of moolah it wasn't like I was going to take a chance on a platter like this especially when there were many other spins that I was more'n willing to make my acquaintance with. At least the arrival of this at my abode (courtesy of GUESS WHO!) does sate a li'l bit of that curiosity I might have harbored alla these years even though, once I settle down 'n think of it, I coulda gone to potter's field w/o hearin' this and it wouldn't have made that big of a dent in my overall rockist nature!
Still a good one. Nothing exceptional 'r anything but still some well-settling if inoffensive, straightforward late-sixties garage morphing into punk that, with some firming up, coulda been one of those outta-nowhere threats the same way that It's All Meat and the Index were. Kinda jazzy at times and perhaps nondescript at others, Maybe with a little luck Twentieth Century Zoo could have been yet another Alice Cooper (if ya wanna talk about local competition) if they had only stretched out a bit more...as it was they did play it safe yet came up with a few good ideas that don't sound that bad a good 45 years later. Keep an ear out for their cover of "Hall of the Mountain King" which might not be as engaging as the Who's or Big Brother and the Holding Company's, but manages to hold its own freak quotient mighty proud-like.
Rather "as you'd expect" musings from this Phoenix (Oregon, that is) transplanted to San Francisco group that tried cashing in on the hippie scene with their custom made sounds that were definitely too good to go anywhere with the dilated denizens of Haight Ashbury. Jeff Airplane comparisons are naturally in order thanks to the group's own Gracie Slick (a better vocalist at that), and given the Childr'n's folk-rockish nature comparisons between 'em and the early SF scene can be drawn with ease. Also count in the El Lay sunshine pop groups who were also making their mark on the AM dial just around the same time and you got this album that woulda made more'n a few sixties thrillseekers jump for joy had this ended up in their local flea market stack! Not only that but this group had the smarts (considering their Northwest heritage) to do a cover of "Louie Louie" which only goes to show that you can take the rock 'n roll group outta the Northwest, but you can't take the "Louie Louie" outta the group!
***the Subteranneans-MY FLAMINGO
We always knew that the best rockscribes of the sixties and seventies really wanted to be punk rockers at heart, and just one look at the recorded output of Lester Bangs, Richard Meltzer, Lenny Kaye, Mick Farren, Crocus Behemoth, Peter Laughner and alla them Gizmos is more'n ample proof of this undeniable fact. Nothing especially strange about that, especially when you've noticed how the trajectory between these aforementioned giants in the rock writing (not criticism) game and the history of punk more or less overcrossed to the point where it ended up looking like one giant braid. I guess that hanging around with alla them big names like Iggy (or at least emulating 'em from afar) and seeing the decadent lifestyles they lead was mighty influential, and although pecking out paens to the big roosters in that barnyard we call rock 'n roll was a mighty fun task in itself it wasn't like these scribes were actually up there on the stage leading their followers in shamanistic ritual trying to incite spirits unknown now, was it?
I mean, what fun was it for a whole slew of writers both pro and fan discussing the apocalyptic fervor of the Stooges '73 when they very well coulda been part of the zeitgeist themselves? Or at least part of it via the rock 'n roll performer as magus schtick that I guess was goin' over really well thanks to Mick Jagger and his decadent charms. And hey, I can tell you firsthand that it may be a joy to experience the atonal blare of free jazz or whatever avant rock might come down the path, but it's really nothing next to being up there on the stage trying to conjure pure adrenaline in your pack of followers, while exuding plenty of it yourself.
Considerin' that these writers knew and in fact felt the meaning behind the blaring drone that made up the soundtrack for my life these past thirtysome year, they sure had a head start on the rest of us as far as reproducing the general mania of the Velvets/Stooges axis in their own special ways. That's why I believe that Birdland, Vom, Smegma, Rocket From The Tombs, the Deviants et. al. were definitely the finest in their league. Having an O-mind ain't exactly something that comes naturally, and you always kinda had it figured out that these rockist writers could change media with a flash, producing good rock & roll or art at the drop of a hat while the rest of us would have to struggle to come up with anything even remotely as inspiring.
I've been curious about the scope and quality of noted English rockscribe Nick Kent's own musical endeavors for at least a few years, although I will admit that I haven't been that anxious to search out his scant recorded output the way I would some obscure early-seventies proto-punk genius's. Maybe I should have if only to sate some rockscribe as rock musician cravings that I've held for eons, but for some reason I thought it would only sound like some of the more third rate musings that were popping outta the immediately post-Sex Pistols days in England. TROUSER PRESS (for all of their good points as well as bad) aesthetics were also sticking in my mind...something was saying "new wave" as opposed to punk rock or garage and considering the reams of subpar sputum I've experienced during those years it wasn't like I was willing to suffer through all of those early-eighties musings again! Besides, even if there was an easily-obtainable recording by Kent's much-mentioned Subterraneans out and about I'm sure the price would be prohibitive, especially for a drudgery wage wonk like myself who really has to be cautious when it came to spreading his lack of wealth.
Thankfully the miracle of youtube can bring loads of once-rare booty to my door and this numbuh is no exception. Yes, while staring at a snap of Kent with onetime galpal and NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS contributor in her own right Chrissie Hynde (right before the gonorrhea set in) you now can enjoy listening to Kent and the remnants of the Only Ones cranking out this track entitled "My Flamingo" and decide for yourself whether or not Kent's moniker should be mentioned in hushed, solemn tones the same way we do with Meltzer's when hearing him rattle off his rants about sarsaps to a neo-TROUT MASK REPLICA beat.
If you ask me ('n hey, why not since it's my soapbox you're paying homage to!), "Flamingo"'s about halfway there and halfway off, with a sound that pretty much speaks 1980 "new music" the same way those other world saving groups you still see at the flea markets do. Naw, it ain't geeky rock lobstering gawdiness...y'know, 1962 JETSONS futurama repackaged for twenty-years-later tacky dancefloor jitters...but it still could've used some roughing up before seeing the light of day. Nice enough melody though with boffo bridges 'n coda, but still too early-eighties commercial FM radio's idea of new wave to really satisfy me. I coulda easily heard WHOT-FM caricature of a caricature Thomas John spinning it 'tween the usual FM gunk of the day, but maybe that's because of the Hynde factor figuring in (meaning, no matter how much I try not to think so, this does remind me of the Pretenders!). And sheesh, I was hoping that the influence of Iggy woulda made this 'un the logical followup to FUNHOUSE...guess I'll just leave that to some mid-eighties Australian aggregates like the Cosmic Psychos and Harem Scarem with their boffo "Figure Head", a record I'm gonna hafta dig out and dust off one of these days.
Good thing for him that Kent stuck to writing because judging from "Flamingo" he still needed to iron out the rumples and find his own voice in more ways'n one. Or maybe one of his big name friends like Keith Richards or Jimmy Page coulda gotten him some contract or bankrolled a recording session and Kent coulda made an album that woulda been a fine 1985 cut out classic even with the musical and vocal limitations. Maybe that coulda been a TEENAGE HEAD for the new rock generation, and wasn't that something we all coulda used? And hey, even I get the feeling that I'll be cozying up to this a whole lot more once I give it a few additional plays, but for now it stands as a nice enough period piece of that tail end on an era (which started 'round the release of the first Velvets album and ended with the death of Lester Bangs) that at the time I thought maybe deserved to die off and let the new sounds abound, but after a few weeks or so boy did I realize how wrong I was!
Took my own advice and decided to search and hopefully not destroy this classic '84 single by an Australian act in the "Detroit Heavy Metal" style (talking CREEM 1970, or "punk rock" style if talkin' CREEM '71!) who managed to release at least one good album and maybe some donkey turds after that for all I know. Well, my memories of this were rather firm, for "Figure Head" is prime Stooges circa FUNHOUSE high energy rock that probably sounds more like Ig and crew or even the MC5 did more'n all of those local acts that were tryin' to imitate 'em back '67 way. Or '77 or '87 or '97 for that matter. I could even make the case as to this having a stronger than anyone would have expected MC5 current at the point where the singer gets into this weirdo Rob Tyner-styled speak-sing on side two, but whatever the case may be this is fantastic lo-fi hard rock that speaks loads more about where the late-sixties were with regards to their influence on the mid-eighties. Well, at least it, along with the Fun Things and a few more, speaks more than all of those rather tiresome acts that crawled outta the cracks in the wake of hotcha Australian musings and pretty much turned me off to the newer acts in "the tradition" because they were so derivative. Only real question is, why did Au Go Go spread this one track between two sides when it easily could've fit on one, thus leaving the flip for some more heavy duty jams kicking out that we all could most certainly use!
***After today's above par outing expect a tiresome tossout sometime midweek followed by a generic reject that I've held in so long it feels like one of those farts you just hadda let out in English class but saved until gym. Don't say I didn't warn you...